Facebook Will Let Users Eliminate ‘Like’ Count in Expanded Test

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Facebook Inc. plans to experiment with allowing more users to block “like” counts on their own posts or content from others, expanding an effort to gauge whether the feature intensified peer pressure particularly among young people.

The social network has been testing hiding likes on its photo-sharing app Instagram in several countries, including Canada, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Japan. Now, the company said Wednesday it will expand that experiment globally on Instagram in the coming weeks and explore implementing a similar opt-out test on Facebook’s main site in the future.

Facebook said it began the experiment to better understand whether eliminating like counts would reduce the pressure of posting to Instagram. So far, the approach has yielded mixed results.

“Some people found this beneficial, but some still wanted to see like counts so they could track what’s popular,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “So we’re testing a new option lets you decide the experience that’s best for you -- whether that’s choosing not to see like counts on anyone else’s posts, turning them off for your own posts, or keeping the original experience.”

The Menlo Park, California-based company has been experimenting with reducing the visibility of like counts for years as it faces criticism that its platforms decrease the mental well-being of its users. For teens and young adults, follower counts and likes remain a key metric of popularity online.

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